At the meeting, UNWTO emphasized the increasingly prominent role of tourism in developing countries, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and called for increased support for tourism in international aid for development (Geneva, Switzerland, 8-10 July 2013).
The Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade, centered on the theme "Connecting to value chains", aimed to examine development assistance in connecting developing countries and firms of developing countries to value chains. For the first time tourism has been identified by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as one of the key 5 sectors with great potential for high impact in Aid for Trade.
Speaking at the event, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai made a call for the increased recognition and support for tourism. "Recent research shows a striking disparity between tourism´s high potential and current contribution to development and the low priority it has been given so far in terms of aid, namely regarding Aid for Trade and Official Development Assistance (ODA)", he said. "Tourism is a key trade category in developing countries, accounting for 30% of the overall service exports of LDCs and thus has a great potential for high impact in Aid for Trade". Mr. Rifai added.
In spite of tourism accounting for 9% of global GDP, including direct, indirect and induced impacts, the sector is only allocated 0.13% of ODA and 0.5% of Aid for Trade, with average projects size at US$ 300,000 in Aid Support, according to 'Connecting Developing Country Firms to Tourism Value Chains', a joint study by the OECD, the WTO and UNWTO, launched at the meeting.
As part of the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade, the 'Joint WTO-OECD side event on the Aid-For-Trade Monitoring and Evaluation Exercise' underscored the tourism sector´s actual and potential developmental impacts, with multiple linkages into the rest of the economy. It cited actions that developing countries, their development partners and tourism stakeholders could take to maximize positive linkages, in order to help achieve job creation and sustainable development objectives.
Aid for Trade aims to help developing countries, particularly the LDCs, develop the trade-related skills and infrastructure needed to implement and benefit from agreements and to expand their productive capacities and trade. The WTO-OECD led initiative encourages developing country governments and donors to recognize the role that trade can play in development, and seeks to mobilize resources to address the trade-related constraints identified by developing and least developed countries.